Celebrating top books on hip-hop history and culture for National Reading Month

March is National Reading Month and what better way to celebrate than reading about the music you already love? Check out our roundup of some of the best books on hip-hop history, culture, and the people who shaped it all!

The Come Up: An Oral History of the Rise of Hip-Hop by Jonathan Abrams

A genre essential, Jonathan Abrams tells the story of five decades of hip-hop through more than three hundred interviews conducted over three years with DJs, executives, producers, and artists who both witnessed and shaped the history of hip-hop.

Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley

Many argue that hip hop is modern poetry, and in this book, author Adam Bradley examines rap history’s top artists through a literary lens and argues that we must understand rap as a complex craft and its own genre of poetry.

LL COOL J presents The Streets Win: 50 years of hip-hop greatness by LL Cool J, Vikki Tobak and Alec Banks

In this visual masterpiece, LL Cool J teams up with journalist Vikki Tobak and Rock The Bells’ Editor-in-Chief Alec Banks to celebrate hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, bringing together exclusive interviews and stunning images in what may be one of the genre’s must-haves is. own books.

Can’t stop, won’t stop by Jeff Chang (with an introduction by DJ Kool Herc)

Most people think history books are dry and boring, but not this one! In what Amazon calls “a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century and a provocative look at the new world the hip-hop generation created,” Jeff Chang explores the history of hip-hop beyond just a musical. perspective, but also analyzes the impact it has had on American culture, politics and society over the past five years.

Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap by Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar

This WEB Du Bois Book Award winner delves deep into the essential character of hip-hop, exploring its roots, its ever-changing sense of identity and impact on American culture.

The Motherlode: Over 100 Women Who Created Hip Hop by Clover Hope and illustrated by Rachel Baker

What better way to celebrate Women’s Month than with this custom illustrated book showcasing over a hundred women in hip-hop, including pioneers like Roxanne Shanté, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and more, as well as more current artists like Nicki Minaj , Cardi B and Lizzo. Combined with stunning artistic renderings of each piece, this book chronicles the women who helped make the hip-hop genre what it is, while describing how they eschewed gender and cultural norms in the process.

The history of hip hop by Eric Reese

The first of a three-part series, this book explores another aspect of the genre’s vibrant voice, including its musical origins, the hip-hop vs. rap debate, subgenres within the hip-hop genre, and how hip-hop influenced the art. , culture, fashion and ultimately world history.

Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture by Mickey Hess

A true encyclopedia, this reference guide provides an in-depth account of some of hip-hop’s most influential individuals and the role they played in shaping hip-hop music and culture. Throughout the book, sidebars highlight issues such as artist rivalries, geographic influence, public scandals, legal challenges, the impact technology had on the genre, and how elements of hip hop were inspired by the icons mentioned in the book.

God Save the Queens: The Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop by Kathy Iandoli

Another book that focuses on women in the genre. This book highlights the important role women have played in making hip-hop what it is today, while exploring issues of gender, money, sexuality, violence, body image, feuds, objectification, and more. the industry.

Contact High: a visual history of hip hop by Vikki Tobak and forwarded by Questlove

Rated as one of the 25 Best Photo Books of 2018 by Amazon, NPR, Pitchfork and TIME, this picture book is a must-have for hip-hop lovers and uses BTS photos (from analog days to digital days) from over 100 photoshoots alongside interviews and essays from industry legends to take readers on a chronological journey from hip-hop’s earliest days to modern times.

Bonus: Vikki Tobak is also the author of

Ice Cold: A History of Hip Hop Jewelry, a visual masterpiece that explores how artists have used jewelry as a form of expression within the hip-hop genre.

Artist-oriented books and biographies:

There are also dozens of artist biographies and books that focus on an individual artist, including The Gucci Mane Guide to Greatness, It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World That Made Him, Decoded (Jay-Z’s autobiography), The Rose That Grew From Concrete (collection of Tupac’s previously unpublished poetry), The RZA, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, The Marathon Don’t Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle, Most Dope: The Extraordinary Life of Mac Miller, Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography, Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip -Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm, EARL: The Autobiography of DMX, Whatever You Say, I Am: The Life and Times of Eminemand much more.

While there are too many books to list here, American Urban Radio Network has a great list of ten books to check out.

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